I ‘n’ I been on lockdown since the Utah Earthquake: March 17, 2020. All the Smile Jamaicas “curated” out of the Secret Dubratory within the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives.
Spring forward to mid May. The plan was to fly to Phoenix, drive my parents to Albuquerque for my nephew Aitch’s graduation. Poor kid, born two months after the 9/11 tragedy. Now, the New Mexico Gator Aid player of the year – baseball scholarship to Pepperdine University – his season gets scrapped b/c of the Covid.
My plan was in between the graduation ceremony (which, of course never happened) and the party, I ‘n’ I was gonna make my pilgrimage to Roswell.
Jews have Jerusalem. Muslims have Mecca. I ‘n’ I have Roswell, New Mexico.
Change of plans. New route: Sun City West, AZ to Fort Benton, Montana.
Diary of a Cratedigger:
Day 1: Flight from Salt Lake to Phoenix.
Flying is surreal. Had no problem with getting an Uber to the airport. The airport was abandoned on a Monday. The big travel day. Two cars at drop off, no wait at the airline, no wait through security.
More workers than flyers. Get to the TSA line. I ‘n’ I have my mask on. So does the TSA ID checker. Put my phone on the scanner, show my driver’s license. The officer says, “Please remove your mask so I can check you against your ID.”
I ‘n’ I was like, “What? You want me to take off my mask? I thought the whole point of masking up was to prevent potential aerosol spread of the Covid? Now you want me to expose myself to the other flyers’ goomba who were ahead of me in line? I’m sure they all had dry cough and were sneezing Covid like a machine gun. Why don’t I just lick the ticket scanner while I’m at it. WTF”.
Of course I said none of that. And spread my germ cocktail all over the effing place.
A couple of restaurants open. But most closed. Flying felt like going to a funeral. Surprisingly half full plane, no one in the middle seats. No beverage service. Guy in the seat ahead of me was mask shamed before take off. Phoenix 105 degrees.
Day 2: Sun City West, AZ to Cedar City, UT – 432 miles.
Left 105 degree Arizona. I’m driving a stuffed Buick Enclave where my only view is the side mirrors. Passenger manifest: Pops (recovering from a neurological condition called NPH – wet, wobbly and wacky). Beloved mother and bunny killer Bella.
The plan was to stay at the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. Two problems:
- Nevada still a “Shelter in Place” state. No resort rooms until this week.
- The dispensary in Mesquite, was like a Seinfeld episode. Remember the Soup Nazi? Had to call in an appointment, meet at a set time, order off a web menu, stay in the car, wear your mask. “Sorry you didn’t say Simon Says, NO VAPE FOR YOU!“
A loaded car, a fidgety dog, a dad in a wheelchair in 105 weather. Another first world problem/Covid inconvenience.
So we stopped in North Las Vegas. I ‘n’ I told my Mom, there will be an Uber fee for this trip. Roll into Reef Dispensary in NLV. Mom and I walked right up. She got her CBD/THC “diet coke” vape. And I’n’ I got my elephant tranquilizer vape.
We arrive to our non-smoking, non-vaping, non-whatnot motel and unload for the night: Cedar City, Utah.
From 105 to 35 degrees in 400 miles. Everything is curbside. Cedar City is deserted. Highways are mostly empty. No reason to sight see because nothing is open. Everything is in a holding pattern and tense.
Taking Bella for a walk – looking for poor bunnies to kill – you could feel the Covid around every corner.
Dystopian almost. Three people and a rabbit killer trying to be normal. Will we actually make it to Montana. Second best Covid state when it comes to total cases. Third best in mortality (17 dead.)
Day 3: Cedar City, Utah to Idaho Falls, Idaho – 405 miles
Pretty uneventful. Grinding down an empty highway looking for handi-capable rest stops. Forced to listen to The Bridge on Sirius XM. 1400 miles of wimp rock: Cat Stevens vs. Seals and Croft to see who plays The Eagles in the Mellow Rock championship.
Idaho Falls is a beautiful river city, but we never got farther than curbside at Olive Garden.
Mom and I ‘n’ I vaped while watching Game 6 of the Bulls-Jazz Finals on ESPN. I ‘n’ I should be two months into a season watching my beloved San Francisco Giants struggle to reach .500.
Day 4: Idaho Falls, ID to Fort Benton, MT – 401 miles
Left Idaho Falls, 29 degrees. I ‘n’ I still in shorts and sandals from Phoenix. Heavy fog over the Monida border pass. Giving me vertigo. Ah, what would it be to not have treacherous weather heading into Montana.
We sailed home. Beautiful rivers and green wheat fields. Arrive at the birthplace of Montana and the house I ‘n’ I grew up in.
What better place to hide from the Covid than a river town where the mosquitos are the size of house flies.
Two days later Mom gets this letter from the Chouteau County Health Department:
It has been brought to our attention you may have recently returned from travel out of state in a non- business related capacity.
You are required to do a 14 day self quarantine upon arriving in Montana. This directive is established by Executive Order of the Governor of Montana and is MANDATORY for visitors and residents alike.
This is essential because travel from another state or country is a common source of Covid-19 infection; with 25% of COVID cases in Montana being travel associated.
First and foremost, people don’t want to get sick and don’t want others to get sick. Montanans understand that. The Governor is confident that most Montanans will take this directive seriously and understand their role in cutting off the chain of transmission to save lives and minimize long term impacts to our economy.
Self-quarantine means that the resident MUST stay within the boundaries of the property on which they are residing in while in Montana and CANNOT leave those boundaries or interact with other people.
This includes the resident being prohibited from grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations/convenience stores, bars, places of worship/churches, schools, gatherings.
Exceptions will only be made in the event of medical emergency, fire, natural disaster or other acts of God preventing the ongoing healthful habitat in a residence.
Self-quarantine must be maintained through the expiration of June 1, 2020 for those arriving prior to June 1.
Please call us when you have completed your self-quarantine
This is the world of Covid-1984. The state of Montana had license plate cameras and then harvested my Mom’s GPS locator info from her fancy Iphone. Since when did I need a passport to travel within the United States? But then, maybe trampling a few civil rights is how Montana smashed their curve.
How nice of the Governor of Montana to let my parents escape a burning house or act of God. To abide by this stricture, my parents would have starved before their 14 day home confinement were up.
And this applies to guests too. So how did I spend my self-quarantine?…….a favorite from Fort Benton keggers circa 1983. Judas Priest – Breaking the Law
Day 5: Cratedigging in Missoula.
Ah, the People’s Republic of Missoula. Once we got unpacked, found some rabbits for Bella to munch on and got the house ready for “self quarantine”, I got on the Google and tapped in “Record Stores — Missoula, Montana.”
It’s not enough that they are still in business. (How many will be fatal victims of the Covid. I shudder to think. I fear that more than the critter killing 80 year olds.) They have to be open for customers.
Curbside record shopping is a joke. I have a curbside record hut, it’s called Amazon. I ‘n’ I wanna go in and dig through the crates. Don’t care about curbside.
- Rockin’ Rudy’s – still in business – open to customers
- Record Heaven, Rockin’ Rudy’s vinyl sister; 2 for 2
- Ear Candy records – 3 for 3.
Pack up, grab my vape works and hit the road. Still freezing, but the drive over mountain pass at Lincoln (home of the Unabomber), was free and clear. More rivers to cross, per Jimmy Cliff. Listening to a mix of Led Zeppelin Radio and Little Steven’s Underground Radio. Heard nuff Christopher Cross to last 10 lifetimes.
Cratedigging in a pandemic
- Captured the address for my parent’s to sign up to make cannabis legal: New Approach Montana
- Montana, as a Shelter in Place state. (As my Pops said – Jesus Christ, the whole state is already shelter in place). Mask mandatory. I ‘n’ I was talking to my Sister getting my vape on before a day of cratedigging. Anyone approaching Rock and Rudy’s without mask was turned away.
Grape Ape vape, 82% Sativa. I’m ready to dig. Fiya burn the Covid!
- Rockin’ Rudys – $250 (Reggae, Stones bootleg, Marley banner I didn’t have)
- Ear Candy – $30 (more of a college rock shop where I am looking for dubstep fill ins I didn’t have)
- Record Heaven – $150. Very impressed. About $120 of that was Reggae collectors titles and 12″ mix I didn’t have. Bravo. That is more Roots Reggae than I’ve purchased in either Vegas or Phoenix in the past year.
Who knows? Maybe by 2022 KRCL will let me back into the station to juggle some of this great black wax on the turntables.
So there you have it. Cratedigging under quarantine. I ‘n’ I write this blog post from the state prison at Deer Lodge, MT. I left the premises in Fort Benton and spread my goomba to Missoula. They had me before I put the first Bob Marley bootleg CD in the player!
Dammit, shoulda turned off my locator setting on my fancy Iphone!
Smile Jamaica Digital Dubplate – 2020 Roots Reggae Mashup
- Zema – Fear Not; Black Sleep (Melchizedek) SoCal female Zap Pow – Last War; Zap Pow (Island) ’78
Yellowman – Lost Mi Love; Mr. Yellowman (Shanachie) ’82
Yabby You – Carnal Mindl; One Love, One Heart (Shanachie) ’84
Winston Jarrett – Babylon Red; Bushwackers Gangbangers (Bigmore) 2010
White Mice – Youths of Today; White Mice (Intelitc)
Wackies All-Stars – Version Pipe; Dub Generals (Wackie’s) (30 min.)
U Roy – Natty Rebel; Natty Rebel (Virgin Front Line) ’76
UB40 – Little By Little; Signing Off (DEP/Sound) ’80
Zion Tribe – Feelin’ High; Barre Chords (Zion Tribe) Equators ska/herb tune, SLC
Toots & the Maytals – Funky Kingston; Funky Kingston (Mango) ’74
Willie Nelson – The Harder They Come; Countryman (Lost Highway) 2005 Jimmy Cliff cover
Wendy Shaw – Jah Rastafari; Passing Through the Flames (Issachar) ’92
War – Why Can’t We Be Friends; Why Can’t We Be Friends (United Artists) ’75 (1 hr.)
Third World – Lagos Jump; All the Way Strong (Columbia) ’83
Twinkle Brothers – Distant Drums; Love (Virgin Front Line) ’78
The Pioneers – Chucky; 20 Original Famous Hits (Pioneer International)
The Gladiators – My Thoughts; Serious Thing (Nighthawk) ’84
The Ethiopians – One; Clap Your Hands (Sir JJ) ’69?
Tena Stelin – Orthodox Music; Wicked Intention (Mr. Modo) ’89
Tapper Zukie – City of Mt. Zion; Peace in the Ghetto (Virgin Front Line) ’78 (90 min.)
Sugar Minott – Africa Is the Black Man’s Home; Ghetto-ology (Easy Star) ’79
Sister Carol – Gimme Mi Freedom; Lyrically Potent (Heartbeat) ’99
Sammy Dread – Black Princess; Wrap Up a Draw (Seven Leaf)
Ras Midas – Kude a Bamba; Confirmation (JML) ’76
Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus – I’m a Man (Just Like You); Know Now (Shanachie) ’89
Ranking Dillinger – Don’t Take Another Man’s Life; None Stop Disco Style (Clocktower) ’77 (2 hr.)
Queen Majeeda – Down in a Africa; Conscious (Heartbeat) ’93 female dub poet
Prince Alla – Thank You Lord; Lion a Go Bite Yu (Headphone)
Pablo Moses – Music is My Desire; A Song (Mango) ’80
Noah House of Dread – Dem People; Heart 2 (ON U Sound) ’88
Misty in Roots – Ghetto in the City; Live at the Euro Countervision 78 (Kaz) ’79
Miliant Barry – Mojo Working; Green Valley (Manic) ’79 (2 and 1/2 hr.)
Mikey Dread – African Map; Dread at the Controls (Trojan) ’79
Mighty Diamonds – Country Living; Stand Up to Your Judgment (Channel One) ’78
Michael Franti – Ganja Babe; Live at the Baobab (Boo Boo Wax) 2000
Marcia Griffiths – I’ve Got to Go Back Home; Naturally (Shanachie) ’79
Love Joys – Jah Light; Reggae Vibes (Wackies) ’81 female duo
Likkle Mai – My Old Flame; Roots Candy (Beat) 2006 Jah-pon Dubstress